The Romance and Reality of the Old West at the Trego County Historical Society

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Old West lore is filled with wild and tragic stories of tough men and women looking for their version of the American Dream on the Western frontier. Their journeys often led them to saloons and bawdy houses populating the cowtowns that popped up on the unsettled prairie.

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In celebration of Kansas Day, the Trego County Historical Society welcomes Marla Matkin, an independent scholar and living history performer, to entertain us with their stories in a living history presentation called “Cowboys and Soiled Doves.”

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Matkin’s love for history developed at an early age and she has spent her life studying the complex lives of legendary Western heroes brought to life in books and on-screen. She now shares these stories through a character she’s created named Contessa, ragling audiences with a “first-hand” account of what life was really like in the boomtowns and upon the range of America’s empty interior. With a twinkle in her eye and tantalizing sense of humor, she describes a world where grit and determination won the day.

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Matkin traces her roots back to southwest Kansas, where in 1877 her great-grandparents claimed a homestead near Dodge City, a town notorious for hosting legendary characters, such as Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid. Today, Matkin calls WaKeeney’s northern neighbor, Hill City, her home and for twenty years she has performed as Contessa throughout the Midwest and further, including at the Smithsonian, Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and several National Park Service sites.

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Matlin’s program will be the highlight of the Historical Society’s annual Kansas Day program. During your visit, you can also explore the museum’s large collection of Western artifacts. Many of the pieces come from local families, providing guests of the museum deeper insight into the history of Trego County through the stories of its citizens, past and present.

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Please join us at the Trego County Historical Society on Sunday, January 21st at 2pm for their annual Kansas Day celebration featuring living history performer Marla Matkin’s presentation on “Cowboys and Soiled Doves.”

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Complete Your Holiday Shopping List in WaKeeney, the Christmas City of the High Plains

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Only ten days left until everyone starts checking under the Christmas tree for the gifts they’ve been looking forward to all year long!

Whether you are a shopaholic who loves to find the perfect gift or a procrastinating Scrooge who waits until the last moment, you can find a special surprise for everyone on your shopping list in WaKeeney, the Christmas City of the High Plains.


For the Fashionistas

Dressing up for the holidays is a pre-requisite for lovers of fashion, and Shear Designs has you covered for every holiday party with the latest trends in women’s clothing.

Put the finishing touches on with the help of custom jewelry from Gibson’s Health Mart. There are many beautiful choices in necklaces, earrings, and bracelets to fit every outfit.


For the Enthusiasts

Whether you are shopping for a tech guru, tinkerer or gear-head, you’ll find fun tools and gadgets to support their favorite hobbies or specialized work.

Find fun gadgets for the fix-it people in your life at Keyser Hardware Store. Wonderful surprises fill every aisle of this store, but be careful to not step on a elf who might be looking for a part for Santa’s Workshop.

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Nex-Tech has the latest technology in smartphones, iPhones, Androids and tablets, along with all the accessories that will light up the faces of any tech guru when she or he opens their gift.

Help the car lovers in your family to dress up their wheels with automotive supplies from Wheatbelt Distributors and Dreher Automotive. You might even see Santa purchasing parts to soup up the sleigh while you’re shopping!

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For the Home

Everyone wants the perfect Christmas look for his or her holiday gatherings. With the help of home goods stores in WaKeeney you’ll find the finishing touches for your festivities.

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Trade in that eyesore recliner for a comfy new couch at Newcomer Furniture Store. They carry top brands with beautiful choices in styles, fabrics, and colors and their helpful elves can provide you with help to find just the right look for your home.

Deck the walls with your own masterpiece created at The Studio 128. They have all the supplies to support your arts and crafts inspiration. Afterwards, let Custom Printing Shop put a frame around it and you’ll have the finishing touches for a charming new look.

Boeve Antiques has unique gifts that will not only look great in your home but also be a great conversation starter for your guests. Some pieces are local finds and some come from far away—maybe even the North Pole! (Call ahead for hours.)

Merry moments call for festive flower arrangements from Main St. Giftery & Floral! Table arrangements, bouquets and poinsettias will add the flare this happy holiday season deserves.


For Health and Beauty

Spruce yourself up with a new hairstyle from one of WaKeeney’s beauty salons, New Creations, Lavonne’s Beauty Shop and Vintage Soul. Get a quick cut for everyday, or ask for a fancy updo for your next party night out.

If you’re looking to reclaim your vitality during this busy holiday season stop by Cleland Pharmacy to stock up on vitamins, minerals and herbs that can head off seasonal colds before they get you down.

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For the Table

Look no further for all the ingredients you’ll need for your holiday meal! WaKeeney’s grocers, bakers and liquor stores can help you stock up for your Christmas Day gathering.

Create your Christmas feast from soup to nuts with help from Heartland Foods. Fill your cart with custom-cut meats, fresh produce and all the fixin’s for the perfect meal to share with your family.

Don’t forget dessert! Pre-order pies, cakes, rolls, and more from Hometown Bakery for that “fresh-from-the-oven” taste and your guests are sure to ask for seconds.

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No celebration is complete without a celebratory sip of a cocktail or wine. Pit Road Liquor, Earl Liquor Store and Shiloh Vineyard & Winery boast a great selection of wine, liquor, beer and cider to add to your festivities.



For You!

Whew! Your shopping is complete and you deserve a little treat. Stop in for a tasty meal at one of WaKeeney’s many great restaurants.

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The Western Kansas Saloon & Grill, Brazen Bull, Mike’s Place and Jake & Chet’s Café serve a full menu of plated meals that include burgers, steaks, salads and sandwiches.

Or, go south-of-the-border at Tropical Mexican Restaurant or enjoy an Italian fest at our local Pizza Hut. For a quick meal stop in at Dairy Queen, McDonalds or Subway to satisfy your hunger pains as you head home from your day of shopping.

This year bring your Christmas Shopping list to WaKeeney and enjoy a day of shopping in the Christmas City of the High Plains!




Wreaths Across America Honors Veterans’ Service & Sacrifice

For twelve years, the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney has participated in a special event called Wreaths Across America. This year we will continue this tradition on Saturday, December 16th when WaKeeney welcomes veterans and their families from across the state to join us in a ceremony of remembrance of all Kansas military veterans.


Wreaths Across America is an annual event modeled on the iconic wreath-laying ceremony held every year at Arlington National Cemetery. Dedicated to all the military men and women who have served our country, this event is a worldwide mission to “Remember, Honor and Teach” what it means to serve and to sacrifice for our great nation. Today Wreaths Across America ceremonies occur in over 1,200 additional locations and in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad.


The ceremony conducted at the WaKeeney Veterans’ Cemetery is a moving experience. It provides all the people in attendance a moment of reflection on the great achievements of our servicemen and women who have joined an all-volunteer army to fight to preserve the American values of freedom and justice for all.


We are honored again this holiday season to be able to recognize members of all five branches of the service—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and the Coast Guard—as well as the Merchant Marines, and those soldiers who hold POW/MIA status. Local donations collected by the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney and the WaKeeney VFW go toward the purchasing of the wreaths from Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, the same supplier of the wreaths laid at Arlington National Cemetery.


A short service will be held during the ceremony, with Errol Wuertz of the Civil Air Corp. and Rev. Stanton presiding, followed by a 21-gun salute performed by the Hays VFW Honor Guard as attendees lay wreaths at the gravesite. The American Legion Riders and Knights of Columbus will lay wreaths for those service members whose families are unable to attend the event, so no veteran goes unrecognized.


Please join us at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney at 11am on Saturday, December 16th for the 12th Annual Wreaths Across America ceremony to remember all the brave men and women of our military.

The Holiday Season Lights Up WaKeeney’s Famous Christmas Tree

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The holiday season has arrived! If you’re as excited about the holidays as we are then we invite you to come to WaKeeney to celebrate with us on Saturday, November 25th, underneath the lights of our famous 35-foot Christmas tree.

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Deck the Halls (and WaKeeney’s Streets)

Our municipal crews have been busy decorating the “Christmas City of the High Plains” with three miles of electrical wiring, 1400 lbs. of greenery, 1100 yards of greenery roping, and 6000 lightbulbs. They’ve hung the handcrafted wood cutouts of wreaths, bows and bells with care, and at the 67th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony we’ll be flipping the switch on their hard work.

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Merry Activities for Everyone

WaKeeney’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is full of Christmas traditions. Take a ride down Main Street on a horse drawn wagon and enjoy a scrumptious bowl of soup at the VFW Hall at 4:30PM before joining us at 6PM for the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Keep an eye out for Santa Claus because he’ll be joining us, too! Follow him to North Pole Park where kids can share their Christmas list with him. We hear he might be bringing along treats.


Two New Ways to Experience the Holidays

This year, experience Santa’s annual adventure for yourself on “Santa’s Sleigh Ride,” a new virtual reality ride with motion added from VR In Motion. It will put you in the driver’s seat, flying down from the North Pole, through the night sky, to the middle of a Christmas village. The ride will be operating in Downtown WaKeeney from 5-9PM by JNT Company and brought to us courtesy of WaKeeney Travel & Tourism.

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Join in on the chorus of your favorite Christmas carols with the Fort Hays Singers. They will be strolling our Main Street from 5-6PM, dressed in Renaissance Madrigal costumes and performing classic carols. After the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony follow the Fort Hays Singers to the VFW Hall at 7PM for a concert of your favorite holiday tunes. There will be a free will donation to assist in funding their upcoming trip to Salzburg, Austria in 2018.

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Holiday Shopping and Dining

Our stores will be open on Saturday to help you get a head start on your Christmas shopping and the restaurants will be serving their best holiday dishes and drinks. Plan ahead for your own holiday dinner by selecting the perfect holiday decorations, then take a break with a milkshake at an old-fashioned soda fountain located in Downtown WaKeeney.

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Get in the Holiday Spirit in the “Christmas City of the High Plains”

Put on your jingle bells and polish up that holiday spirit on Saturday, November 25th, for the largest display of lights between Kansas City and Denver. There’s nowhere better in Northwest Kansas to welcome the arrival of everyone’s favorite holiday than in the “Christmas City of the High Plains” in WaKeeney, Kansas.

Get Ready for Pheasant Season in Trego County

The birds are on the run on Saturday, November 11th when Pheasant Season opens in Trego County and it looks like it will be a great year for hunters!

The Northwest Kansas pheasant population has fully recovered after a recent drought and hunters from across the globe are looking forward to getting their limit of the game bird this year. Our county provides some of the best hunting grounds and we have many businesses in and around WaKeeney that can assist you in gearing up for a successful hunting trip.


Hunting Lodges and Outfitters

Book your stay in a rural hunting lodge and be out in the field at dawn with a professional guide!

The Farm House is a comfortable country home specially designed for hunters. The owners will have you ready for a day out in the field with breakfast and evening meals available upon request, and on-site sheds are ready for your dogs to catch up on a peaceful night’s rest before going on the hunt in the morning.

A large number of acres provide an abundance of cover and habitat for game birds, as well as large game at Saline River Hunting Lodge & Guide Service. The lodge provides complete accommodations for up to six people with either full or continental breakfast included and satellite TV, corn-burning fireplaces, large family room, a bar with refrigerator and hunting theme decor available. The guide service is a member of the Kansas Sport Hunting Assn. and Kansas Guides and Outfitters Assn. at Saline River and they promise that “hunting is our game.” They are located off I-70 and Hwy. 283 south of WaKeeney.


Butterfield Trail Bunkhouse places you right in the middle of pheasant country near Cedar Bluff State Park. The rustic guesthouse can accommodate up to 4 people, with a fully stocked kitchen and a cleaning station to prepare your pheasants for their journey back to your home. Contact the owners to find out more about the prepared meals you can pre-order for your stay.


Hotels and Campgrounds

For hunters who want to spend the night in town, WaKeeney boasts five hotels that offer convenient, comfortable stays. The Best Western Plus WaKeeney Inn & Suites, Kansas Kountry Inn, Bryant Motel, Super 8, and EconoLodge are all located close to Downtown WaKeeney and WaKeeney KOA is a great option for those with campers.


When you need to refuel and you’re looking for a satisfying meal, take the shortest route to WaKeeney, Kansas, where you’ll enjoy a tasty dinner at any of our ten fine restaurants!

Jake & Chet’s Cafe/Sundowner Lounge

Jake and Chet’s Cafe and the Sundowner Lounge combine fresh ingredients and years of culinary experience to create their culinary masterpieces. They will serve you a delicious ribeye cooked to order, southern fried catfish, or an all-American burger, and then follow it up with a slice of pie a la mode. (233 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2211)

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The Brazen Bull

WaKeeney’s newest restaurant is the The Brazen Bull, a family owned restaurant with a bold take on America’s greatest plated meals. Satisfy your hunter’s instinct with delicious steaks, burgers, sandwiches and salads choices. (717 S 2nd St./ph. 785-743-2653)

Dairy Queen

Looking for a snack to cool you down? WaKeeney’s Dairy Queen can mix up your favorite soft serve treat in a jiffy. They also offers an entrée menu with salads, wraps, sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers. (521 Barclay Avenue/ph. 785-743-2160)

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Western Kansas Saloon & Grill

Experience the ambiance of a historic western saloon at the Western Kansas Saloon & Grill. Located in one of our county’s oldest buildings, their  menu includes steak, pasta, burgers, salads and sandwiches, and a fully stocked bar. (121 N Main St./785-743-2050)

Pizza Hut

The WaKeeney Pizza Hut offers pizza, pasta and tasty wings with a choice of sauces from their Wing Street menu. Pizza Hut delivers in the WaKeeney city limits, making it a great option if you want to stay in for the evening. (324 S 1st/ph. 785-743-2383 – Call ahead to find out when their buffet is open!)

Tropical Mexican Restaurant

The menu at Tropical Mexican Restaurant offers the great taste of authentic Mexican food right here in Trego County. Chicken or beef fajitas and burritos taste great with a Corona after a day out hunting. (428 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2219)

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Hometown Bakery

Wake up to Hometown Bakery! Their bakers craft everything from a scrumptious pies, cookies, and even celebratory cakes! Stop in on your way out to the hunt to pick up a donut and a cup of fresh brewed coffee. (215 N Main St. /ph. 785-743-6496)


America’s most iconic roadside restaurant is undoubtedly McDonald’s and at the WaKeeney McDonald’s drive thru window you can make a quick stop before you head out on your hunt. (745 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2911)

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Mike’s Place

Kick back and relax after the hung with a cold beer at hotspot at Mike’s Place in Downtown WaKeeney. Mike’s offers a “pub grub” menu that  features regular daily specials of local favorites and all the great finger foods and burgers you’d expect in a bar. (111 N 6th St./ph. 785-743-2641)


Grab a sandwich to take on the hunt at WaKeeney’s Subway. Their sandwich specialists use freshly baked bread and fresh ingredients for their easy-to-eat, on-the-go satisfying meals. (718 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-5248)

Make Trego County your headquarters for tasty game bird on opening day of Pheasant Season on Saturday, November 11th!Get

Halloween Fun for Kids of All Ages in WaKeeney

It’s fright night in WaKeeney, where our local ghouls have planned two frighteningly fun celebrations for kids and adults this Halloween!

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For the Adults – Saturday, October 29th from 9 pm to 2 am

When the sky grows dark and the vampires are ready for a drink, head to the Sundowner Lounge for a glass of your favorite witch’s brew at their annual Halloween party.

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Howl with the wolves when the sun goes down and the creatures of the night come out to play. Proprietors of Jake and Chet/Sundowner Lounge will be handing out door prizes and cash prizes for the best costumes. Spooktacular drink and food specials will be waiting for you, along with games, candy and more fun. The Sundowner Lounge is located at 233 S. 1st St. in WaKeeney and the party is from 9 pm to 2 pm.


Trick or Treating for the Kids – Tuesday, October 31st:

Bring the pint-sized ghosts and goblins to Downtown WaKeeney for the Trego Recreation Commission’s annual Halloween Madness with a parade, games and candy galore!

From 4:30 to 5:15 pm the city merchants will be handing out candy to tiny trick or treaters at their businesses and other generous citizens will be handing them out from the back of their decorated vehicles. In Courthouse Square games of spooky sport will challenge mini witches and wizards, and all the other creatures of the night.


At 5:15pm line up at the south end of Main Street to become part of the Halloween parade that will be walking up the two blocks to the Water Tower at 5:30 pm.

A costume contest and free hot dog feed sponsored by the Trego Recreation Commission will follow.

Or, at 5:30 pm you can enjoy a free chili supper at the WaKeeney City Fire Station for trick or treaters and their parents. The WaKeeney City Fire Station is located at 122 S. 2nd and the supper is sponsored jointly by the Trego County Rural Fire Department and the WaKeeney City Fire Department.


This year, hop on your broom and fly on over to WaKeeney, Kansas for Halloween fun fit for everyone!


Experience Fall on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

The Northwest Kansas prairie is beautiful in the fall and there is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the changing season than by touring the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway of Trego County.

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The Smoky Valley Byway is a sixty-mile route over gently rolling hills that takes you past stunning natural settings and historic landmarks, like the Emanuel Lutheran Church on South Hwy. 147, which is made of locally quarried limestone.

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As is the Wilcox country schoolhouse on South Hwy. 283 that is currently under restoration.

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Cedar Bluff State Park is a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy outdoor activities. Fishing, boating, and hiking are all accessible at the park. Along with many great spots on the reservoir, Pa’s Fishing Pond is a stocked pond created for children and the disabled to enjoy. If exploration is more your style give the hiking trails a try. The Agave Ridge Trail will take you deep into the park where you are sure to spot many kinds of wildlife. The trail leading down into Threshing Machine Canyon will take you right to the spot where pioneers traveling across the prairie carved their names and dates into the limestone cliff face.

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When you’re back on the Byway keep your eye out for the limestone posts marking the old route of the Butterfield Overland Despatch. These posts were added in 1960 to mark the historic trail that adventurers followed on stagecoaches from Atchison, Kansas to Denver, Colorado in 1865. The limestone blends in with the surrounding grasses in the fall, but the easiest marker to locate is found on Hwy. 147 south of the turn to the state park office on west side of highway below Cedar Bluff’s dam.

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As you cruise on down the road you’ll notice the stark white limestone cliffs that reveal our prairie’s prehistoric life as the floor of a great inland seabed. Professional and amateur paleontologist regularly uncover fossils in the exposed cliffs, including animals dating as far back as the Cretaceous period.


Don’t forget to look for the many species of wildlife that fill our Great Plains as you’re driving. Trego County is known for its great deer and pheasant hunting. (Hunters—mark your calendar for the start of the 2017 Pheasant Season next month on November 11th.)


One of the most beautiful things to see on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway are the amazing sunrises and sunsets that paint our skies every day. Experience an unparalleled connection with nature and “share our sky of wonder” with us.

This fall plan a drive along the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway and experience the history and natural beauty of Trego County.